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Waterpower Projects Support Local Communities

Archived Backgrounder

Waterpower Projects Support Local Communities

Waterpower has been helping to fuel Ontario's growth since before Confederation and is the backbone of our renewable supply. Waterpower is a reliable, clean, local and naturally recurring source of energy.

Waterpower, also called hydroelectricity, has a number of benefits including:

  • It is a clean source of energy generation, with minimal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • It is one of the most efficient energy technologies
  • It can easily respond to sudden changes in energy needs
  • Waterpower plants generally have long life cycles - usually 75 to 100 years
  • Water level and flow management plans provided by reservoirs and dams can help to support recreational activities and contribute to public safety by minimizing flooding
  • Projects can provide opportunities for economic development in remote communities
  • It is a good complement to other more intermittent forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

Waterpower accounted for about a quarter of the province's electricity supply last year. There are currently 200 waterpower facilities province-wide, with a total installed capacity of more than 8,000 megawatts.                                                     

Renewable Energy in the North

Waterpower accounts for more than 80 per cent of electricity generation in the North. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has about 7,000 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectric capacity at 65 generating stations. Twenty-four of those sites (with a total capacity of close to 2,000 MW) are located in Northern Ontario. Many older facilities date back to industrial mining and forestry activities in the early part of the last century; some of these sites are being dismantled and rebuilt at higher capacity.

Construction is underway at two OPG hydroelectric generating stations in the North:

  • Lower Mattagami: A redevelopment of four hydroelectric stations to add 438 MW of new capacity
  • Upper Mattagami and Hound Chute: Redevelopment of a four-station complex which will increase capacity to 44 MW.

In addition, in the spring of 2010 a total of 95 large-scale and mid-scale clean energy contracts were offered in the North as a result of a new program launched under the Green Energy Act.

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